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Wednesday, October 15, 2008

BREAKING NEWS: Fighting erupts in border dispute

Fighting Erupts in Border Dispute

(AP): A gunfight has broken out between Thai and Cambodian troops at a disputed border zone, escalating a conflict that officials from both sides fear could result in a war between the neighbours.

"Fighting is going on," said Major Prum Saroeun, a Cambodian police official. "Soldiers in the field say that Thai troops fired first and our troops fired back."

Thailand's army spokesman Sansern Kaewkumnerd said Cambodian troops fired the first shot.

"Fighting is ongoing at the border and we are currently getting more details," he said. "As far as we know, the Cambodians fired at the Thai troops first."

It was not immediately clear how many troops were engaged in the gunbattle and if there were any fatalities.

The clash came a day after Cambodia's prime minister issued an ultimatum to Thailand to pull back its soldiers from disputed territory near the 11th century Preah Vihear temple.

Thailand's foreign minister Sompong Amornvivat has urged Thais to leave Cambodia as soon as possible.

Thailand put jet fighters on alert at air force bases nationwide and C-130 transport planes on standby at a base in the capital, Bangkok, to evacuate Thais living in the border area "if the tension escalates to a military confrontation," Thai air force official Group Captain Montol Satchukorn said.

"Our forces are on alert and ready to support the army's possible operations on the border," he said.

"These are just precautionary measures. It's not that we are going to war."

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